Rockapaedia Obituary

Brian Jones

Band: The Rolling Stones

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Brian Jones died aged twenty-seven on 2nd July 1969. He was discovered Photo of Brian Jonesmotionless at the bottom of his swimming pool at Cotchford Farm in the village of Hartfield in East Sussex, U.K. His Swedish girlfriend, Anna Wohlin, was convinced Brian was alive when he was taken out of the pool, insisting he still had a pulse. However, by the time the doctors arrived it was too late and he was pronounced dead. The coroner's report stated "death by misadventure" and noted his liver and heart were heavily enlarged by drug and alcohol abuse.
The Rolling Stones performed at a free concert in Hyde Park on 5th July 1969, two days after Brian Jones's death. The concert had been scheduled weeks earlier as an opportunity to present the Stones' new guitarist, Mick Taylor, and the band decided to dedicate the concert to Brian Jones. Before the Rolling Stones' set Jagger read excerpts from "Adonais", a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley about the death of his friend John Keats, and stagehands released hundreds of white butterflies as part of the tribute. The Stones opened with a Johnny Winter song that was one of Brian Jones's favourites, "I'm Yours and I'm Hers".
Brian Jones was reportedly buried 10 feet (3 m) deep in Cheltenham Cemetery. His body was embalmed, hair bleached white, and was placed in an air-tight metal casket. Watts and Wyman were the only Rolling Stones who attended the funeral. Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull were travelling to Australia to begin the filming of Ned Kelly; they stated that their contracts did not allow them to delay the trip to attend the funeral.

Brian was born on 28th February 1942 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK. An attack of croup at the age of four left him with asthma, which lasted for the rest of his life. His middle-class parents, Lewis Blount Jones and Louisa Beatrice Jones were of Welsh descent. Brian had two sisters: Pamela and Barbara. Both of Brian Jones's parents were interested in music: his mother Louisa was a piano teacher, and in addition to his job as an aeronautical engineer, Lewis Jones played piano and organ and led the choir at the local church.
In 1957 Brian Jones first heard Cannonball Adderley's music, which inspired his interest in jazz. Brian persuaded his parents to buy him a saxophone, and two years later his parents gave him his first acoustic guitar as a seven-teenth birthday present.
Brian Jones attended local schools, including Dean Close School, from September 1949 to July 1953 and Cheltenham Grammar School for Boys, which he entered in September 1953 after passing the Eleven-plus exam. He enjoyed badminton and diving at school and attained first clarinet in the school orchestra. In 1957 he reportedly obtained seven O-level passes, then he continued into the sixth form and obtained a further two O-levels. He also took three A-levels in Physics, Chemistry and Biology and passed in Physics and Chemistry, but failed in Biology. Brian Jones was able to perform well in exams despite a lack of academic effort. However, he found school regimented and disliked conforming. He disliked the school uniforms and angered teachers with his behaviour, though he was popular with classmates. Brian Jones himself said: "When I made the sixth form I found myself accepted by the older boys; suddenly I was in."
His hostility to authority figures resulted in his suspension from school on two occasions. According to Dick Hattrell, a childhood friend: "He was a rebel without a cause, but when examinations came he was brilliant."
In late summer 1959, Brian Jones' 17-year-old girlfriend, a Cheltenham schoolgirl named Valerie Corbett, became pregnant. Although Brian Jones is said to have encouraged her to have an abortion, she carried the child to term and placed baby Barry David (later Simon) for adoption.
Brian Jones quit school in disgrace and left home, travelling for a summer through Northern Europe and Scandinavia. During this period, he lived a bohemian lifestyle, busking with his guitar on the streets for money, and living off the charity of others. Eventually, he ran short of money and returned to England.
Brian Jones listened to classical music as a child, but preferred blues, particularly Elmore James and Robert Johnson. He began performing at local blues and jazz clubs, while busking and working odd jobs.
In 1961, Brian Jones applied for a scholarship to Cheltenham Art College. He was initially accepted into the programme, but two days later the offer was withdrawn after an unidentified acquaintance wrote to the college, calling Jones an irresponsible drifter.
On 23rd October 1961, Brian Jones' girlfriend Pat Andrews gave birth to his third child, Julian Mark Andrews. Brian Jones sold his record collection to buy flowers for Pat and clothes for the newborn. He lived with them for a while. On 23rd July 1964 another woman, Linda Lawrence , gave birth to Brian Jones' fourth child, Julian Brian. In early October 1964, an occasional girlfriend of Brian's, Dawn Molloy, announced to Brian and the band's management that she was pregnant by Brian. She received a cheque for £700 from Andrew Loog Oldham, LTD. In return, she signed an agreement that the matter was now closed and she would make no statement about Brian Jones or the child to the public or the press. The undated statement was signed by Molloy and witnessed by Mick Jagger. In March 1965 Dawn gave birth to Brian's fifth child Paul Molloy, renamed John Maynard by his adoptive parents.
Brian Jones left Cheltenham and moved to London where he became friends with fellow musicians Alexis Korner, future Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones, then named Paul Pond, future Cream bassist Jack Bruce, and others who made up the small London rhythm and blues and jazz scene there. He became a blues musician, for a brief time calling himself "Elmo Lewis", and playing slide guitar. Brian Jones also started a group with Paul Jones called the Roosters and in January 1963, after both Brian and Paul left the group, Eric Clapton took over Brian's position as guitarist.
Brian Jones placed an advertisement in Jazz News (a Soho club information sheet) on 2nd May 1962, inviting musicians to audition for a new R&B group at the Bricklayer's Arms pub; pianist Ian "Stu" Stewart was the first to respond. Later singer Mick Jagger also joined this band; Jagger and his childhood friend Keith Richards had met Jones when he and Paul Jones were playing Elmore James' "Dust My Broom" with Korner's band at the Ealing Jazz Club. Jagger brought guitarist Richards to rehearsals; Richards then joined the band. Brian Jones' and Stewart's acceptance of Richards and the Chuck Berry songs he wanted to play coincided with the departure of blues purists Geoff Bradford and Brian Knight, who had no tolerance for Chuck Berry.
As Keith Richards tells it, Brian Jones came up with the name the "Rollin' Stones" (later with the 'g') while on the phone with a venue owner. "The voice on the other end of the line obviously said, 'What are you called?' Panic! The Best of Muddy Waters album was lying on the floor—and track five, side one was 'Rollin' Stone Blues'".
The Rollin' Stones played their first gig on 12th July 1962 in the Marquee Club in London with Jagger, Richards, Jones, Stewart, bass player Dick Taylor (later of the Pretty Things) and drummer Tony Chapman.
From September 1962 to September 1963 Jones, Jagger and Richards shared a flat (referred to by Richards as "a beautiful dump") at 102 Edith Grove, Chelsea, with James Phelge, a future photographer whose name was used in some of the group's early "Nanker/Phelge" writing credits. Brian Jones and Richards spent day after day playing guitar while listening to blues records (notably Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Howlin' Wolf). During this time, Brian Jones also taught Mick Jagger how to play harmonica.
The four Rollin' Stones went searching for a bassist and drummer, finally settling on Bill Wyman on bass because he had a spare VOX AC30 guitar amplifier and always had cigarettes, as well as a bass guitar that he had built himself. After playing with Mick Avory, Tony Chapman and Carlo Little, in January 1963 they finally persuaded jazz-influenced Charlie Watts to join them. .
While acting as the band's business manager, Brian Jones received £5 more than the other members.
Andrew Loog Oldham's arrival as manager marked the beginning of Brian Jones's slow estrangement. Oldham recognised the financial advantages of bandmembers' writing their own songs, as exemplified by Lennon–McCartney, and that playing covers would not sustain a band in the limelight for long. Further, Oldham wanted to make Jagger's charisma and flamboyance a focus of live performances. Brian Jones saw his influence over the Stones' direction slide as their repertoire comprised fewer of the blues covers than he preferred; more Jagger/Richards originals developed, and Oldham increased his own managerial control, displacing Brian Jones from yet another role.
According to Oldham in his book Stoned, Brian Jones was an outsider from the beginning. When the first tours were arranged in 1963, he travelled separately from the band, stayed at different hotels, and demanded extra pay. According to Oldham, Brian Jones was very emotional and felt alienated because he was not a prolific songwriter and his management role had been taken away.
The toll from days on the road, the money and fame, and the feeling of being alienated from the group resulted in Brian Jones's overindulgence in alcohol and other drugs. These excesses had a debilitative effect on his physical and mental health and, according to Oldham, Brian Jones became unfriendly and antisocial at times.
Brian Jones was arrested for drug possession on 10th May 1967, shortly after the "Redlands" incident at Keith Richards' Sussex home. Authorities found marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine in his flat. He confessed to marijuana use but claimed he did not use hard drugs.
In June 1967, Brian Jones attended the Monterey Pop Festival. There he met Frank Zappa and Dennis Hopper, and went on stage to introduce the Jimi Hendrix Experience who were not yet well known in the United States.
Hostility grew between Brian Jones, Jagger, and Richards, alienating Jones further from the group. Although many noted that Brian Jones could be friendly and outgoing, Wyman, Richards, and Watts have commented that he could also be cruel and difficult. By most accounts, Brian Jones's attitude changed frequently; he was one minute caring and generous, the next making an effort to anger everyone. As Wyman observed in Stone Alone: "There were at least two sides to Brian's personality. One Brian was introverted, shy, sensitive, deep-thinking. The other was a preening peacock, gregarious, artistic, desperately needing assurance from his peers." "He pushed every friendship to the limit and way beyond".
In March 1967, Anita Pallenberg, Brian Jones's girlfriend of two years, left him for Keith Richards when Brian Jones was hospitalised during a trip the three made to Morocco, further damaging the already strained relations between Brian Jones and Keith Richards. As tensions and Brian Jones's substance abuse increased, his musical contributions became sporadic. He became bored with the guitar and sought exotic instruments to play, and he was increasingly absent from recording sessions. In Peter Whitehead's promotional film for "We Love You", made in July 1967, he appears extremely groggy and disoriented.
Brian Jones's last substantial sessions with the Stones occurred in spring and summer of 1968 when the Stones produced "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and the Beggars Banquet album. He can be seen in the Jean-Luc Godard film 'One Plus One' playing acoustic guitar and chatting and sharing cigarettes with Richards, although he is neglected in the music-making. The film chronicles the making of "Sympathy for the Devil".
Where once Brian Jones played multiple instruments on many tracks, he now played only minor roles on a few pieces. Brian Jones's last formal appearance was in the December 1968 'The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus', a part concert, part circus-act film organised by the band. It went unreleased for 25 years because Jagger was unhappy with the band's performance compared to others in the film such as Jethro Tull, John Lennon, The Who, and Taj Mahal.'Commentary included as bonus material indicated that almost everyone at the concert sensed that the end of Brian Jones's time with the Rolling Stones was near, and Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who thought it would be Brian Jones's last live musical performance.
Brian Jones was arrested a second time on 21st May 1968, for possession of cannabis, which Brian said had been left by previous tenants of the flat. Due to his being on probation, he was facing a long jail sentence if found guilty. The jury found him guilty but the judge had sympathy for Brian Jones; instead of jailing him, he fined him £50 plus £105 in costs and told him: "For goodness sake, don't get into trouble again or it really will be serious".
Brian Jones's legal troubles, estrangement from his bandmates, substance abuse, and mood swings became too much of an obstacle to his active participation in the band. The Rolling Stones wanted to tour the United States in 1969 for the first time in three years but Brian Jones was not in fit condition to tour and his second arrest exacerbated problems with acquiring a US work visa. In addition, Brian Jones' attendance at rehearsals and recording sessions had become erratic. According to author Gary Herman, Brian Jones was "literally incapable of making music; when he tried to play harmonica his mouth started bleeding".
This behaviour was problematic during the Beggar's Banquet sessions and had worsened by the time the band commenced recording 'Let It Bleed'. In March 1969, Brian Jones borrowed the group's Jaguar and went shopping in Pimlico Road. After the parked car was towed away by police, Brian Jones hired a chauffeur-driven car to get home. In May 1969, Brian Jones crashed his motorcycle into a shop window and was secretly taken to hospital under an assumed name. From this point, Brian Jones was still attending recording sessions but was no longer a major contributor to the band's music. By May, he had made two contributions to the work in progress: autoharp on "You Got the Silver" and percussion on "Midnight Rambler". Jagger informed Jones that he would be fired from the band if he did not turn up to a photo session. Looking frail, he nonetheless showed up and his last photo session as a Rolling Stone took place on 21st May 1969, first at St. Katherine Docks, Tower Bridgephoto of Brian Jones, London and then at Ethan Russell's photographic studio in South Kensington. The photos would appear on the album 'Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol.2)' in September 1969.
The Stones decided that following the release of the Let it Bleed album (scheduled for a July 1969 release in the US) they would start a North American tour in November 1969. However, the Stones management was informed that because of his drug convictions Brian Jones would not receive a work permit. At the suggestion of pianist and road manager Ian Stewart, the Stones decided to add a new guitarist and, on 8th June 1969, Brian Jones was visited by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts and was told that the group he had formed would continue without him.
To the public it appeared as if Brian Jones had left voluntarily; the other band members told him that although he was being asked to leave it was his choice how to break it to the public. Brian Jones released a statement on 9th June 1969, announcing his departure. In this statement he said, among other things, that "I no longer see eye-to-eye with the others over the discs we are cutting". Jones was replaced by 20-year-old guitarist Mick Taylor, formerly of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.
During the period of his decreasing involvement in the Rolling Stones Brian Jones was living at Cotchford Farm in East Sussex, the residence formerly owned by Winnie-the-Pooh author A. A. Milne which Brian Jones had purchased in November 1968. Alexis Korner, who visited in late June, noted that Brian Jones seemed "happier than he had ever been". Brian Jones is known to have contacted Korner, Ian Stewart, John Lennon, Mitch Mitchell, and Jimmy Miller about intentions to put together another band. Brian Jones had apparently demoed a few of his own songs in the weeks before his death, including "Has Anybody Seen My Baby?" and "Chow Time".

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song: 'Ruby Tuesday'
-The Rolling Stones with flute played by Brian Jones.